Welcome to the third post of my series about life coaching. If you’ve read any of my previous interviews with Emily Hodge and Elizabeth McCourt, you’ll know I’m on a mission to find out what Life Coaches do and how they can help us. Today’s interview is with the fantastic Bristol-based Rhian Sherrington from Choose 2 Flourish. As I’ve learnt through my previous interviews, life coaches tend to ‘niche down’ or specialise in a particular area of focus. Rhian has chosen the very important aspect of career change, so she focuses on helping people to make a transition in their career, whether this is progression or total career change.
Is life coaching a ‘legitimate profession’?
A bit of a bold question, I know, but with so many coaches online making claims to transform your life overnight, this is something I know is on a lot of people’s minds. We all value our hard-earned cash, and before we decide to part from it, it’s only fair that we make sure we’re getting value for it. And the truth is that sadly, not all coaches are fully qualified to help.
Rhian and I talked a bit about this. “You’ll find coaches online who make unrealistic promises, and then find out they might not even have the right qualifications to support you in your transition and change. It’s a legitimate profession. People who are looking to work with a coach should really ensure that the coach has an accreditation. I feel it’s really important to educate others and emphasise the point that you should always check qualifications. Often you can easily find this information on a coach’s website, but if you can’t, I’d always suggest to check with them and ask what coaching body they are a member of. That’s just for your own peace of mind that you’re working with someone who has been through rigorous training and hours of practice before actually qualifying.”
Will a coach tell me what steps to take next?
This is something that also came up in my previous interviews – contrary to what most of us might think, coaches don’t tell you what to do. They are definitely there to challenge you, but they are not advisors. “Coaching is a process of self-discovery. It’s about helping your client to find out things about themselves for themselves. When working with a coach, people understand what they have to do for themselves. If a client expects to walk into a conversation about career advice, I’m pretty open about the fact that they might need a career advisor instead of a coach.”
Will coaching always work for everyone?
When I had my one and only session with a Life Coach about a year ago, I walked in with no real understanding of what a coach did or didn’t do. I found it an emotionally-draining process and looking back, I know I missed a great opportunity of getting real value from that session. Because I simply wasn’t ready.
And my conversation with Rhian definitely supported this point. “Coaching isn’t right for everyone at any one time. You have to get into coaching willing to prioritise the time. Because it’s important that the client understands that it’s their responsibility to take action. And the coach doesn’t determine the action. The client very much creates the action, through a process of clarification during their work with the coach. This is why I always send a questionnaire to my prospective clients before we embark on a coaching journey. I want to make sure that they are ready for coaching and are motivated to put the time and effort in. That’s the only way the process can be valuable to them, really.”
What about mental health?
Rhian also uses the initial coaching agreement she sends out to ask her prospective clients whether they are on any medications for a mental health condition.
“I offer a space in that form for them to share with me, if they want to, in a bit more detail. If the client opens up (before or during coaching) and says they think they could be suffering from a mental health condition, ethically as a coach, I would then look to coaching them into accessing the right professional help they need. If a coach isn’t aware of mental health issues (or careful enough in spotting any of the signs), they might get in the way of someone accessing the help they need at that point in time – medication, for example. Someone might need professional or medical care before they can feel ready to work with a coach and move forward. And a good coach will be aware of this. Which is why I really urge people to check qualifications before committing to working with a coach.”
Would you say coaches help you get ‘unstuck’?
This is very much a word I’d personally use to describe how I felt about a year ago before I made the decision to leave my job. Rhian explained that people come to coaching with different feelings, so I asked her if she could kindly give me a few examples of phrases that people might use. And I was fascinated to hear some of these:
- I don’t have the clarity;
- I can’t make a decision;
- This isn’t working, but I don’t know what else to do.
Have you ever felt like this? I know I have!
“Coaching helps you raise above all that. Often we know something isn’t quite right, but we don’t know or can’t see what we want to do next. Life coaching is about helping you to move forward. So if you feel that you need or want to move forward, but you can’t quite see how or in which direction, that’s where you know you could benefit from working with a coach. Sometimes we act as catalysts for change. Other times we just act like a sounding board, and we help people validate their own thoughts.”
And last but not least, can we talk about limiting beliefs?
“Yes, we all have our own restricting and limiting beliefs. Typical things that come up when I work with my clients are fear of change, fear of being successful and leaving people behind, but also the feeling that you don’t deserve anything better, for example. Often there’s a real emotional block that needs to be identified and released. Life coaching can help you get out of this circular thought pattern and shift from a sense of anxiety and uncertainty about the future to a state of peace of mind and confidence. As a coach, you offer a non-judgemental, objective place for people to safely process their ideas.”
I find this so powerful. I experienced this first-hand before I came to conclusion to leave my job and take a break from my career, and I remember how draining it was to get caught up in all these thoughts, which were just a product of my own fears and insecurities, really. Now I know better – I should have worked with a life coach!
Have you been in a similar situation? Or are you in that situation now? Would you consider life coaching?
You can find Rhian on her website Choose 2 Flourish, on Facebook or Twitter. Rhian is also the author of two books: Alchemy for the Mind: Create Your Confident Core (2014) and Choose to Flourish: How to Change Career and Thrive in Life: A simple 10-step guide to successful transitions (2015).